What is it? Joining the C-Max Hybrid, this version of the tall hatchback is a plug-in hybrid. A big 7.6-kWh lithium-ion battery gives the Energi a claimed range of 21 miles on electricity before the engine has to start, although the engine will run at any speed above 60 mph, for better efficiency.
While the battery blocks some of the small, genre-bending vehicle’s space, it does leave room for five passengers and more cargo on top than the Chevrolet Volt boasts. And with a battery half as big as the Volt’s, this plug-in hybrid costs just under $30,000 after the federal tax credit. On the other hand, fewer drivers will be able to get through a day without using at least some gas.
What is new or notable? The C-Max Energi is the first plug-in hybrid that gives drivers full control over whether the car is running on electricity or gas. A three-position switch selects between Electric Now for city use, Electric Later, for highway driving into a city, or a predetermined mix of each in Auto mode.
CR’s take: We appreciate the ability to choose our own driving modes, as well as the C-Max’s five-passenger seating and more affordable price. Based on Ford’s nimble and nice-riding Focus platform, we also enjoy driving the C-Max, though some controls could be better.
When will it be available? January 2013.